Superman: The latest instalment
“You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be, Clark.
Whoever that man is, he's going to change the world.” A truly spine tingling quote from a
truly spine tingling movie. Superman has had a somewhat tricky past in the movie world;
much like the attempts to develop a successful Incredible Hulk film, Superman movies
have tended to be below average. Though its 2006 attempt ‘Superman Returns’ attracted
the acting capabilities of Kevin Spacey, the movie didn’t perform particularly well in the
box office – grossing only around $200 million since its release. The film also lost
money, with IMDB estimating the films budget at almost $210 million, a $10 million
loss. The hero has also been explored in avenues other than cinema, having been adapted
a number of times in television series – most recently with the surprisingly successful
‘Smallville’, which ran for ten seasons, exploring the young Superman through his
adolescence. The decision to reinvigorate the character of Superman, much like the
Incredible Hulk, was always destined to be a gamble. However, building upon the recent
explosion in popularity for the superhero movie, Zack Snyder alongside Batman’s
Christopher Nolan and the immensely talented David Goyer have taken the plunge and
re-explored the spandexed son of Krypton and decided to present the world their latest
adaptation of the clean cut hero and how glad I am that they have done so.
It is generally my philosophy that the success of a superhero movie depends upon
whether viewers leave that movie longing to be the protagonist. The Iron Man films did
it, the latest Batman trilogy did it and now Man of Steel has certainly left me dreaming of
being Superman. Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the clean cut American hero was faultless.
Relatively unknown, at least by me, prior to this film, Cavill has certainly flown into the
Hollywood top division. Though the movie could perhaps be minutely critiqued for a lack
of humour, particularly with Superman himself (past Superman characters have generally
exhibited a degree of comedy and comedy has been a factor by which the Iron Man
franchise has thrived), the close observation of Clark Kent’s character development was
truly fascinating and perhaps overshadows this lack. Cavill, alongside the younger actors
portraying Kent’s youth, was perfectly able to encapsulate the struggles his character
faced in finding and accepting himself as both alien Kal-El and adoptively human Clark
Kent and when faced with the destruction of humanity, accepting himself as ‘Superman’.
The film cleverly combines the sub-characters within Superman of Kal-El, Clark Kent
and of course ‘Superman’.
Equally, the focus on the young Clark Kent’s relationship with his adoptive father,
particularly in the depiction of Kent’s troublesome childhood, was emotionally gripping
and Kevin Costner certainly had a part to play in this. The film was significantly aided by
strong acting performances from both Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon, as
Superman’s father and uncle respectively – indeed Crowe’s character was stretched to the
limit within the movie, perhaps an indication of the producers wanting to get their
moneys worth out of him, which to be fair they certainly did. A potentially major
component for viewers, particularly of the fairer sex, was the clear physical dedication
Cavill put into creating the ultimate Superman (judging by the Twitter reaction #hench).
A physique that reportedly took twelve strict months of diet and exercise to sculpt, Cavill
certainly looked the part of the ultimate superhero and left me majorly envious.
A unique component of the Superman story rests with his being an alien hero, an
orphaned child from the planet Krypton. The film was undoubtedly successful in
engaging with this inimitability, offering a vast amount of visual sustenance. It is
certainly a film which must be experienced in the cinema environment to enjoy it at its
best. I don’t think I have ever seen a movie that had so many action scenes to offer. Just
when you thought you had seen the greatest twenty seconds of explosive action ever, you
are hit by yet another onslaught. For sure, my heart rate averaged no less than 160
throughout and the music certainly matched the scenes – my feet didn’t rest once. What
was more, the action scenes weren’t merely ones with the sole purpose of covering a
poorly written script – the script was unbelievable and the adaptation of the Superman
story that David Goyer and Christopher Nolan have created in Man of Steel will be
difficult, if not impossible, to match in the future. They have undoubtedly capitalised on
the recent lust for superhero’s and created a stupendous movie, full of action, emotionally
engaging relationships, a top quality storyline and CGI to match any movie that I have
If you are not a fan of the currently trending superhero movie, or you are not a fan of
unrealistic and outrageous story plots then this film will likely not be for you, although
the box office figures would perhaps show you up. But for me, the combination of Goyer,
Nolan and Snyder has resulted in a fantastic script and a truly awesome movie, only
further credited by spectacular acting performances, particularly with a pitch perfect
Superman in Henry Cavill and I very much implore you to go and watch it and I certainly
look forward to the second instalment that they would be insane not to make.